In the future, larger companies should also be part of discussions at Economie071. That is the wish of Jan Niewenhuis, Councilor economic affairs for the Oegstgeest District. Ultimately, the partnership should develop into a platform where entrepreneurs come together to meet and be seen.
“Economie071 is important to Oegstgeest because an economy as such accepts no limits. What does Oegstgeest mean to the Leiden region? But also, what does the Leiden region mean for the Netherlands? And the Netherlands to Europe? The “I Amsterdam” brand used by Amsterdam to present itself, is better known throughout the world than the Netherlands itself.
It is also important for the Leiden region to have a recognised brand. For this it is necessary to know who you are and what you have to offer. We are the link between the north and south areas of the Randstad.
Regional marketing will be one of our most important activities for the coming years. This goes beyond tourism. Regarding quality of housing, year after year Oegstgeest has retained its position in the top ten of the Netherlands. We are very much aware of our excellent living environment and our power to attract expats. We are an international village with some 82 nationalities. We were also the first district where housing construction took off again in 2012.”
Interesting Business Climate
“Although we are primarily a residential district, we also house a sizeable piece of the Leiden Bio Science Park within our district borders. The businesses in the park provide an enormous spin-off for new activities, which have already led to the creation of many jobs. The employment opportunities have grown here in recent years whereas they have declined in many other sectors.
We are committed to exploiting our space even more to benefit from this opportunity for high-level employment within our district. We must not let the knowledge from start-ups drain away. That is why we have to support each other in offering these entrepreneurships a complete package so that we are able to maintain our attractive business climate.”
Collaboration and Connections
“Due to globalization, mutual collaboration in the region is more urgent than ever. The Leiden University will not disappear from Leiden as such, but it is partly housed in The Hague and does have ties to the universities in Rotterdam and Delft. You must use this, otherwise you will be surpassed by other developments.
A good business climate for companies can only be achieved through good collaboration. The airspace company Airbus wants to build parts for the Ariane 6 rocket in Oegstgeest. This can only be organised when you know where to find each other in the region.
Another regional theme for the near future is the participation legislation. How can we offer greater opportunities in the labour market to people who are less easily employable? We also want to focus more on freelancers and the self-employed, they form the largest group of entrepreneurs in Oegstgeest. How can you connect with them and what could they contribute to larger companies?”
P.C. Hooftstraat (Renowned Shopping Centre) of the Region
“The shopping areas have found it particularly difficult in recent years, so that also requires regional cooperation. Whilst developing the retail vision, it became apparent that the De Kempenaerstraat with its chic look was already known by a broad public as the P.C. Hooftstraat of the region. We already knew that a district such as Laren attracts much public interest due to its attractive shopping centre, but not entirely to our surprise, Oegstgeest is also known as a top shopping location. It also showed that people visited both the Lange Voort and the De Kempenaerstraat; proof that these areas complement each other.
Establishing the retail vision was a difficult process, but the strong position of the De Kempenaerstraat has allowed us to open the eyes of entrepreneurs. Instead of competing against each other, the shopping areas can complement each other.”
Meeting Place for Entrepreneurs
“Together with the Economie071 board, we are working on a new agreement and we are looking forwards to optimising the collaboration. The collaboration is in the adolescent phase because we are going through a transformation.
Currently the districts and the educational and knowledge establishments are the major drivers behind Economie071. Now that this first phase has been completed, I hope that entrepreneurs will take more responsibility and broaden the platform. Economie071 can become a meeting place where everyone is happy to be present and wants to share in an active role. A platform as the place to be, just as is already occurring in the Amsterdam and Rotterdam regions.
With the government, education and entrepreneurs, we all form a part of a much larger puzzle. At the moment it is still two-dimensional, but with more involvement from the entrepreneurs this can become three-dimensional. We want to gain the involvement of larger businesses, such as Heineken and Janssen Farmaceutica.”
“Cooperation within Economie071 has to become so commonplace that involvement is no longer dependent on the efforts of individual people or limited by the reigns of local officials. We are aiming for long-term commitment.
Districts do not have to formally organise for this because the content is more important than the precise organisation of it: content before structure. Above all we want to remain flexible. Economie071 has six districts and when it concerns implementation of regional marketing, Wassenaar and Noordwijk also come on board.”
Visible Results are Needed
“We are very happy that such enormous steps have been taken in the region through Economie071, steps such as the development of the Retail Vision, the establishment of PLNT and the Expat Centre Leiden.
We need these types of visible results because this promotes confidence. When we celebrate these types of successes, others want to become part of it. Everyone becomes more energized. To keep the engine going, you have to continue investing in employment. I hope that the Noordwijk District will also join the Expat Centre. This would make Economie071 even more important as a link between the north and south areas of the Randstad.”